FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 2, 2016) -- Being in the military requires Soldiers and their Families to make certain sacrifices, and a permanent change of station, or PCS, is one of them.

To assist with that process, the Army has developed the Total Army Sponsorship Program, or TASP, which is designed to clear the fog of uncertainty that envelopes transitioning to one's next assignment by identifying a Soldier at the gaining unit to receive and welcome an incoming Soldier.

"The function of the sponsor is really to welcome that new member to the unit (and) adopt (him or her) into that Family," explained Phil Hemminger, chief of Personnel Processing Branch, Military Personnel Division, Fort Drum. "The people who receive a warm welcoming appreciate it, and (they) are more eager to become a part of that team."

According to Army Regulation 600-8-8, TASP provides Soldiers in the ranks of private through colonel and Civilian Employees through grade 15 with an opportunity to participate in the advanced arrival sponsorship program.

There are a few stipulations that apply. Those Soldiers who are serving their first term (those who have not re-enlisted) are required to have a sponsor.

Soldiers who are traveling from advanced individual training or who are being assigned to a student detachment need not apply. They will be sponsored by the student detachment, and they should receive a welcome letter before their arrival or a sponsor once they are greeted at Clark Hall's reception desk.

Aiding in ease of access, TASP recently received a digital upgrade, which means requesting a sponsor is now only a few keystrokes away.

"On the reassignment side, we went live with the Army Career Tracker as the web-based tool for sponsorship," Hemminger said. "Prior to that, the Army had been handling sponsorship manually by emailing papers."

He added that once a Soldier is locked into an assignment, he or she should receive an email from the Army Career Tracker system that requests the individual to fill out Department of the Army Form 5434, Sponsorship Program Counseling and Information Sheet.

At first glance, the program might seem to be about seamlessly transitioning. Dig deeper, and one will discover it also speeds up the process of creating a pinpoint assignment.

"Once they have requested a sponsor, the gaining installation fills out the remainder of the form and decides which unit the Soldier will be assigned to," Hemminger said.

From here, Soldiers can expect one-on-one contact with their sponsors, and they will be able to ask specific questions about training expectations, local shopping, school systems and safe neighborhoods for house hunting.

Soldiers should expect their transition to be conducted in four or five phases: receipt of a welcome letter from their gaining unit, briefing by Army Community Service's Relocation Readiness Program staff (if requested) who provides information about the local area, reception at their unit where they are greeted by their sponsor, orientation of their unit and local community, and about two weeks of in-processing.

The process might seem lengthy, but thoroughness is necessary in maintaining the health and well-being of the Army's Soldiers and their Families.

"We want to ensure that as Soldiers transition from one place to another, they have all the tools and resources that we can provide them to make that transition as smooth as possible for them and their Family Members," Hemminger said.

While the program seems flawless, there are hurdles to overcome when handling service members who receive orders while deployed -- something Hemminger and his team are currently working out with 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers who recently returned home from a deployment.

"We are finding that there are a good number of Soldiers who came down on assignment while they were deployed," Hemminger said. "They are just coming home now and haven't been to a levy brief yet."

Hemminger continued to say that his office is working to get these Soldiers into the next available briefing. He encourages those who are on assignment and who have not scheduled a briefing to call (315) 772-1255 to make an appointment.

"If they have a report date between (now) and the end of September and have not been to a levy brief, we would like them to call and ask to be put into the next available brief," he said.

For additional information or to schedule a levy briefing, call (315) 772-1255 or visit Clark Hall, Bldg. 10720, Mount Belvedere Boulevard.

Other resources available are as follows:
Army Career Tracker at https://actnow.army.mil/login
DA Form 5434 at http://www.drum.army.mil/Newcomers/Documents/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=9
Total Army Sponsorship Program regulation -- www.apd.army.mil.